Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO)
Nuad Thai, traditional Thai massage is regarded as part of the art, science and culture of traditional Thai healthcare. As a non-medicinal remedy and manual therapy, it involves bodily manipulation in which the practitioner helps rebalance the patient’s body, energy and structure to treat illnesses believed to be caused by the obstruction of energy flow along ‘sen’, lines understood to crisscross the human body.
This manipulation is intended to normalize the four body elements: earth, water, wind and fire. To open up blocked routes, Nuad Thai therapists perform a combination of manipulations using their hands, elbows, knees and feet, together with herbal hot compresses to reduce inflammation. Presently, Nuad Thai is classified into two main types: Nuad Thai therapy and Nuad Thai for health promotion.
Nuad Thai has its roots in self-care in Thai peasant society of the past; every village had massage healers whom villagers would turn to when they had muscle aches from working in the field. Over time, these experiences have evolved into a formal system of knowledge, and Nuad Thai is now an income-generating occupation.
In 1985, the Project for the Revitalization of Thai Massage was launched to revitalize and maximize knowledge of Nuad Thai, and an initiative has also been taken to form an alliance of Nuad Thai practitioners who come together annually.